Tag Archives: hiking

Dimple Hill

Spring has come to the Willamette Valley.  I know this because yesterday the sun came out in all its majesty and highlighted the work it has been doing while we weren’t paying attention.

In celebration of the sunshine, I threw a couple peanut butter  &  black raspberry rollups and a blanket in my old college backpack and headed up to the McDonald-Dunn forest.   The idea was to hike to Dimple Hill and lay in the sun on the south-facing slope and immerse myself in a book.   I started at the trailhead at Chip Ross Park, which incidentally is right behind my church.  How many people have 11,250 acres of forested and trails behind their church?! The hike turned out to be about 7.5 miles roundtrip, so it took a little longer than i was expecting, but that’s okay.  It was such a glorious day!

crummy iPhone pic of the view from Dimple Hill

crummy iPhone pic of the view from Dimple Hill

On the trail, I met a homeless man.  He was carrying a milk jug, a pair of dirty white socks, and a backpack.  He stopped to let me pass and warned me to be careful of cougars in the woods.  “Just stay on the trail and you’ll be safe.  There are cougars out here and they have big jaws (he demonstrates with his hands) and teeth about this long.   But they won’t get you if you stay on the trail.”  As if the trail itself has cougar-repellant properties.  What a concept!  I assured him I’d be safe.

Lying in the grass on top of Dimple Hill, you are afforded a bird’s-eye view of most of West Corvallis.  With a telescope, I may have been able to make out my place in the sprawl of housing complexes marring the verdant valley.  Through the trees to the east,  I could make out the snow-capped peaks of the Three Sisters, one of which I may finally climb this summer if I put my mind to it.

I lay in the sun and being the nerd that I am, read a textbook on biotechnology.  Did you know that there exists a tool called a Gene Gun?  It is used by scientists to introduce new genes into cells.  Essentially it blows holes in the cells with little gene-bullets, and then the genes are free to make themselves at home.  Fascinating concept, isn’t it?  I love science.

genegungtw

I am very much looking forward to the predicted summertime weather this weekend.  80 degrees, ya’ll.   So glad winter is over.

Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under Anecdotes

Kalalau Trail and Hawaii-in-General

We are back from The Great Adventure!  The weather could have been better but the islands were gorgeous, naturally.  For those who are interested, here’s a brief history of our backpacking trip on the Kalalau Trail along the Na Pali Coast of Kauai.

April 2:  We flew from PDX to Honolulu, then sat in the airport for three hours waiting for our inter-island fight to Lihue, Kauai.

Passing time in the Honolulu airport by playing Phase 10

Passing time in the Honolulu airport by playing Phase 10

Danny, Keith and I wished Becca goodbye (she was staying in HNL with her brother) and took a quick flight to Lihue.   Backpacks arrived in one piece (a feat in and of itself) and we waited semi-anxiously by The Bus stop, hoping to be allowed to board with our packs.  Turns out The Bus drivers are used to backpackers and we had no problem getting to the Land Called Hanalei for the staggeringly high price of $1.50 per person. Once on The Bus we even got a free tour of the island, as local residents told us about everything we passed on the hour and half drive. In Hanalei, The Bus driver even gave us instructions about the best place to stand in order to hitchhike to Ha’ena Beach Park. Darn helpful for a $1.50 fare, wouldn’t you say? I hitchhiked for the first time (though taking public transport in the Dominican Republic comes close) and it was really fun trying to get a ride.  After about 20 minutes, someone stopped and let us ride the 5 or 6 miles to Ha’ena Beach Park in the back of her Tacoma.  It was a windy night to camp on the beach, and we ended up sharing the covered shelter with a crowd of drunk homeless guys while we cooked dinner.  They kept us awake late into the night with their god-awful saxophone playing and ukelele-plucking.  Special.

The Bus stop Success at thumbing a ride!
The Bus stop Success at thumbing a ride!

April 3: We woke up early (not difficult when the 10 million local roosters start crowing at 2:00 a.m.), cooked breakfast in the covered area with the homeless guys (or “houseless” as they informed us), and hit the road.  It was about a mile walk up to Ke’e Beach, where the Kalalau Trailhead is.  Our packs were only about 25 lbs each and we had trekking poles so it was an easy warmup.  I was already loving my new Gregory Jade 50 backpack…so comfortable and breathable!

The Kalalau trail starts out steep, slick and muddy.  I feel bad for all the unprepared dayhikers who attempt the first 2 miles in flip-flops.  The views, however, are instantly rewarding.  Within minutes we were high up on the cliffs of the Na Pali and could see the sparkling blue ocean far below.  Humpback whales entertained us the whole trip by spouting, breaching, and slapping the water with their fins.  Every corner we turned was another breathtaking sight.  The trail is strenuous, but (in my opinion) well worth the hike if you’re in  decent shape.  We hammered out all 11 miles in about 9.5 hours, including stops for lunch.  There a few spots where the trail is about 6 inches wide and the cliff drops off a couple hundred feet into the ocean.  Hair-raising, but not too bad if you don’t look down!

At the Kalalau Trailhead

At the Kalalau Trailhead

The view on the first mile

The view on the first mile

Keith crossing Hanakapiai River

Keith crossing Hanakapiai River

Entering the Kalalau Valley under a full rainbow

Entering the Kalalau Valley under a full rainbow

The tired Wicked Witch of the East

The tired Wicked Witch of the East

Sweet little campsite on the beach

Sweet little campsite on the beach

April 4: Bathed in a bikini under a waterfall, lay on the beach all day reading a good book, walked along the beach, explored some beach caves, hung out with fellow campers and discussed the “spiritual pizza” that the Kalalau Valley hippys make, fell asleep to the sound of breaking waves on the beach.

geeky sunbathing...immersed in a novel

geeky sunbathing...immersed in a novel

Keith bodysurfing off Kalalau Beach

Keith bodysurfing off Kalalau Beach

April 5: We woke up at oh dark:thirty and packed our stuff, wolfed down some granola and hit the trail.  We left lots of time on the trip out so that we would have plenty of chance to take breaks.  No one was hurting, but a few of us were nursing blisters and were naturally a little more tired on the way out.   The hike was peachy, Keith took a bazillion pictures, and I took personal pride that I was easily out-distancing dayhikers on the last mile of the trek.  It rained Big-Time on the last hour, as if the trail wasn’t muddy enough to begin with.

We wearily walked the mile of road back to Ha’ena Beach Park and pitched our tents in gale-force winds and sheets of rain.  I have to admit, that last night was not my idea of a party.  The tent was about to blow away with us in it and it sprung a couple leaks around midnight.  I kept thinking, “This CANNOT be Hawaii.  Why did I ever leave Oregon for THIS?”

April 6: Keith flagged down a surfer (hitting the waves before work…is that the sweet life or what?!) and he took us into Hanalei in his pickup.  Seriously, people in Kauai are so friendly!  Big fatty Hawaiian breakfast, brush the teeth with running water in a mall bathroom, and jump on The Bus.  Back to Lihue in plenty of time and we jumped on our inter-island flight back to sunny Honolulu. Becca met us at the airport and we rented cars.  They scored a great deal on a hotel room in Waikiki, while we did laundry, had dinner at Tiki’s and then sauntered over to the North Shore to our campsite at Malaekahana in Laie.

April 7: Woke early with the roosters (they’re freaking EVERYWHERE!) and heeding The Hunger, betook ourselves to the Hukilau Cafe in Laie.  Besides being the only breakfast joint in Laie (unless you count McDonald’s which local construction workers do, but I don’t) the service and food is fabulous.  I totally recommend this place for a huge plate of LocoMoco if you ever find yourself in Laie!

We drove up to Waimea Bay and sunbathed on the beach, while observing 20-30 ft waves crashing literally onto the beach.  People  were actually attempting to boogie-board in that surf…an exercise in futility and a death wish, in my opinion.  I got a lubbly tan.  Dinner that night was at Lucy’s Grill & Bar in Kailua, the site of our date while staying with Grandma & Tom in 2004.  Some of the best food I’ve ever had in my life!!

Waimea Bay

Waimea Bay

Shave Ice in Haleiwa town

Shave Ice in Haleiwa town

The Hukilau Cafe

The Hukilau Cafe

April 8: Ate breakfast at the Hukilau again! Then we drove around the island and went snorkeling in Hanauma Bay, which was fun but the water was kinda cold and I got a little freaked out because I kept swallowing salt water.  Somewhere in the middle of all this, I got a phonecall from A Company That Shall Remain Anonymous Online Until Such Time as I Receive a Job Offer, asking me to swing by for a little ol’ interview.  Panic ensued while I shopped desperately at Kanoehe Macy’s for interview appropriate dress clothes.  Did you know that Hawaiian Macy’s sell Muu-muu’s?  In spades.  Frightening.

After adding dress pants and black pumps to my backpacking wardrobe, we continued on to Honolulu and ate dinner with Danny  and Becca.  Wandered around the elegant shops of Waikiki and drank overpriced cocktails on the strip.   I have no pictures of any of this, for some unexplained reason, so use your imagination.

April 9: I got up at 5:20 a.m. and showered outside in the dark.  Let us pause for a moment and marvel at the resourcefulness of a woman who can dress for an interview at a campground in the dark.  Dress shirt, dress pants, high heels, necklace, hair and makeup….who needs a bathroom and a vanity mirror?!?    We booked it to the site of my interview (an hour’s drive) and I spent 2 great hours there.  I even hiked around in a field in my  pumps.  I’m not sure if that made a good or bad impression…I’ll keep ya’ll posted.

Immediately after the interview, we ran to the airport and made it just in time to board our flight to PDX.  It was a fun and eventful trip, if not entirely relaxing.  Thanks to everyone who prayed for our safety on the Kalalau Trail, and for my job interview!

I started this trip in backpacking gear and finished it in dress clothes!

I started this trip in backpacking gear and finished it in dress clothes!

2 Comments

Filed under Anecdotes

Heading for Hawaii

We’re packing tonight and flying to Hawaii with Danny & Becca in the morning!  We’ve got our backpacks loaded down — Kalalau Trail here we come.  Wish us luck — that we don’t fall off the Na Pali cliffs, get stranded while hitchhiking, or any perils of that nature.   See y’all in a week!img_0790

Leave a comment

Filed under Anecdotes

Puddle Stomping


New Years Day was rainy and grey. Keith and I couldn’t stand the idea of being stuck in the house all day, so we put on all our rain gear and went outside to stomp in puddles!

You can’t really tell how hard it was raining in these pictures. Good thing we were totally waterproofed.

We went to the playground, too. Slippery plastic slides and rain pants make a great combination. You can really pick up some speed!

Leave a comment

Filed under Anecdotes